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Stephen Hawking: His most memorable quotations

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/14/2018 Jane Onyanga-Omara

LONDON — Stephen Hawking, the legendary British theoretical physicist, has died at age 76, his family announced in a statement early Wednesday.

The cause of death was not immediately available. His family said he died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, eastern England. Hawking had been confined to a wheelchair by a form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — a neurological disease — for decades, and communicated using a speech synthesizer.

As well as being a world-renowned scientist, Hawking was known for his memorable and inspirational musings.

Here are some of them:

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special.

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.

For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.

Stephen Hawking wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018. © Ian Waldie Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has passed away at his home in Cambridge, March 14, 2018.

I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.

We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.

Athough I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.

My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in. I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students. I find that people in general are very ready to help, but you should encourage them to feel that their efforts to aid you are worthwhile by doing as well as you possibly can.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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